Our Echo
Title, story type, location, year, person or writer
 
Add a Post
View Posts
Popular Posts
Hall of Fame
Projects
Visitors
Contests
Search

Run Danny, Run novel Chapters 3&4

Story ID:11449
Written by:Richard Laurent. Provencher (bio, contact, other stories)
Organization:Retired
Story type:Fiction
Location:Truro Nova Scotia Canada
Year:17
Person:Esther & Richard Provencher
View Comments (0)   |   Add a Comment Add a Comment   |   Print Print   |     |   Visitors
OurEcho Preface This post deals with a mature theme or contains explicit language. While the post is not extremely violent or pornographic, it does contain language or explore a subject matter that may offend some readers. If you do not wish to view posts that deal with mature themes, please exit this post.
CHAPTERS THREE AND FOUR CONTINUE THE NOVEL RUN DANNY, RUN BY ESTHER AND RICHARD PROVENCHER.


CHAPTER THREE

Danny remembered his tenth birthday party ---
I'm wearing my favorite pants. They’re camouflage for a hunter. Just like Rambo in the old TV movie, First Blood.

Outside, the snow is dropping huge flakes. Cars are stuck up and down the hill where I live. This foster home is neat.

My foster mom even invited some of the kids from around to come to my party at MacDonald's. Then some older people sang songs and all the kids cheered. We had party hats and blown up balloons. I had a red one, but yellow is my favorite color.

Today, I have to remember to smile, like the sun.

I want to shine brightly. The sun makes people smile. Rain makes people grumpy. I want people to smile, especially today.

When we get back from Macdonald's my foster mom has another surprise. "What do you think about a couple of adults coming over Danny?"

I like that. She asks my opinion, instead of treating me just like a little kid. It makes me feel like I'm somebody special.

"Great!" I answer.

She's a single parent. And her two girls are a pain in the butt. My foster mother doesn't like it when I slap them though.

When everyone finally arrives, there is lots of noise and good presents. I got a model airplane and a kite, even a Blue Jay baseball cap. "Neato," I say over and over. "Thank you, thank you," my mouth opens wide like a fish I once saw in an aquarium.

My foster mother says I'm a polite boy. I like it here. And I really, really hope I don't have to move anymore. Maybe she'll keep me until I'm a man.

Oh no, I forgot.

Men can be mean. They do mean things. Even go away or die on you. I promised myself I don't want to grow up. I want to stay ten years old, forever. And keep it like today ... the happiest day of my life.

I open all my gifts stacked up on the table. I make a messy pile of torn wrappings and ribbons. But nobody seems to care.

"It's your special day, Danny. So, I won't be too tough on you." Sometimes my foster mother is cross, not today though. I really love her. She's very nice to me.

Everyone likes my new haircut. Now I can see my ears in the mirror. I wanted new running shoes. "Not enough money," my foster mother said. I promise her, “Someday I'm going to be rich.”

Balloons are piled all over the table, and we start throwing them around. Then my favorite T-Shirt got messy from my ice cream.

We live in a big house with a hill at the back. I hope I don't get grass stains on my pants when summer comes. I don't like to get into trouble. It makes people unhappy and mean.

Right now the grass is painted white from the snow. When I'm up in my bedroom on the top floor, I can see the whole world, like now.

My fun party is over and I'm thinking bad thoughts again. I wish I could stop worrying and just be a little kid.

The bogeyman used to scare me when I came here two months ago. I could hide from him by shutting my eyes real tight. And stay way under the covers.

It's much better when he can't see me. Sometimes, I scream in my dreams and wake everybody up. Then my foster mom has to hold me until everything is okay and I fall asleep.

One day, everything changed. The Children’s Aid told me I have to move somewhere else. My foster mom says it’s because I keep hitting her little girls. And everyone is crying.
Especially me.

*

Anne and I are on an evening walk. It’s a serenade of peace and relaxation on our shadowed street beside Victoria Park.

The moon is richly full, aglow as a giant lantern with an abundance of light. Certainly it casts enough shine to polish up the whole world. It’s the kind of night when adults should be laying as children on the grass looking up, enjoying the sky.

Zillions of stars need someone right now, to make a wish. And I do so. Let it be like this, peaceful, and relaxing in the comfort of my wife's presence. Forever. Anne and I slowly amble up Rosewyn Street, past our neighbor George, now retired after 35 years at the cheese factory.

We continue past the home where 23 year-old Ted steers a wheelchair, instead of a Harley. He crosses Lansdoon; now descending the steepness of Exhibition Street.

Gaslight lamps from Inglis Place far below and across the tracks are beckoning tomorrow's shoppers. And of course the stars above suddenly discover there are still at least two people in love, holding hands and cuddling.

Dogs begin to bark. The silence of our walk has somehow aroused the noisy canines. It’s difficult to concentrate anymore. Have to hurry before the whole neighborhood comes to investigate.

Life is like that. We must capture the moment of our caring, a touch here--a word there. Gentle thoughts parade as memories of emotion, filed for future reference. They can be withdrawn whenever the pressures of life threaten to overwhelm us. Too soon an intrusion works its way into our lives.

Our sanctuaries of thought are such private spaces and now temporarily displaced by the inquisitive sounds of barking dogs.

"Should have brought JC along," my wife teases.

"Yes," I answer. Susan's cat used to be mine. She has a habit of chasing dogs from our own backyard. That is her private territory and jealously guards it from intruders.

I reach down and pick up a penny. It represents a small part of this throwaway generation. Why do people 'chuck' these away anyway? It seems sad to continually pick up castaway pennies from people who carelessly discard them. But I don't mind, recovering what is not wanted.

Sometimes people throw away their children.

Maybe that’s why I want Danny in our family. He’s like a cast away coin. Walt and Susan laughed when I showed them the jar on my dresser. "You just watch," I told them. "I'm going to try and fill it before the end of the year."

"Anne," I said. "Why do they do it? Here we are raising children and trying to teach them something. How can we inspire them to hang onto their money when maybe it's their friends doing this? Somehow we have to encourage them never to copy these types of people."

The dogs are much louder. We can barely even think, let alone hear our conversation.

"I remember when the children were younger and needed me so much," Anne says. “Things like, ‘Mommy, what should I wear?’ coming from Susan. ‘Mommm. Come quick. I think I cut myself,’ from Walt. Gosh, I miss that. Now it seems I have to intrude on them in order to try and capture that feeling of being needed."

"Yeah," I know what you mean. But I didn't even have that chance then. Both my parents worked while I was young. Not much chance to do anything as a family. That's why I want us to share and make the most of our times together, hon.

And it has to happen before the kids grow up and only want to be with their friends. Some parents are simply there as fixtures, or taxi drivers, not really doing anything meaningful with them."

"That’s quite a speech, dear." Anne took her husband's arm in her own giving it a loving squeeze. Even in the last year since he knew the children, she had seen such a positive change. "There are still lots of time for you to be a big part of their lives, Larry."

"But, at least you had them for a period of time when they totally leaned on you. It gave you a chance to mould them. And they were young enough to pick up your good points."

"Really?" Anne laughed. "You'll have to list those good points for me sometime. Or, better still. Ask the children what they remember?"

"I'm sure it's a long list, dear. For instance, Susan has your wit and Walt has your energy. The best I can come up with is trying to understand Susan's cute comments and barely keeping up to Walt in a short race."

Anne tried to make light of his seriousness. Changing the subject might help. "I really wanted Roy to get to know you," Anne said. "He just couldn't accept another man in the house. You know, it's really his loss," she added.

"Yes. He seems like a nice enough young fellow; a little hard to get to know him though, when he's visiting. I've tried to break through that mask of his. It's as if he spends his time watching me, waiting for me to make a wrong move, or something. Besides, Walt gives Roy enough ammunition to take back."

"How does he do that?"

"Well, he totally ignores Roy. For instance, the last time we planned to go to the store, Walt suddenly decided he didn't want to go. When Roy said it was okay he'd do some reading instead, Walt changed his mind. Almost as if he would rather Roy wasn't around."

"Walt simply doesn't want to share you with any other boy, even if it is his brother. That's all. I can imagine how threatened he also feels about Danny possibly coming to live with us. That means, there are now two brothers to compete against each other."

Larry gave his wife a good squeeze. "Poor Walt. Maybe I should put myself in his shoes sometimes, instead of guessing how he feels. He shouldn't be afraid to lose any part of me, especially when he has most of me to himself. Sometimes it’s Susan who gets left out."

"I know Hon" Anne said. "It's also easy to understand why Roy kept hoping my marriage would pick up where it left off. There wasn't much left after all those flings his father had in every town. Is that what happens to most traveling salesmen?"

Larry kissed her cheek. "I'm here now Hon, forever. There will always be a place in my heart for Roy, too. Maybe one day he'll wake up in the morning, open his eyes and look around. And I'll be there for him."

"Thanks, love."

It sure felt good walking by his wife's side, talking about their family. Love is great. Even if there isn't much chance to relax these days. He's certainly had a lot on his mind lately.

Sometimes it's not so easy for a man to express his thoughts. You know the old saying; “The power behind the throne is a woman.” I agree with all my heart.

When I first met Anne I told her marriage is not just 50-50; nor 70-30. Not even 80-20. It's 100% -100%. Because when I fall down and need a burst of encouragement she has to be prepared to pick me up 100%. And I must be prepared to do the same for her.

As I listen to the feminists, I respect their views. But, I respect my wife's mostly. She's my battery---she's my life. Anne is always in my thoughts. We've had an intimacy since our marriage. We don't pull any punches---we share.

I suppose there are times when there are secret feelings men have a difficult time, sharing. Some little thought or saying or feeling that's best not expressed. Better to shut the lip, regarding those occasions.

Yet, not telling her about Jenny was stupid. Anne took it well though. It's such a shame Danny was the one handed the short end of the stick. Years of drifting from home to home waiting for someone to say, "Stop. No more moves. You're staying here, period."

No matter how much I want to find my son, I know I have been neglecting Walt and Susan lately. I know it and they know it. Even Anne knows it. But my search is all consuming.

One of these days we're going to find him.

There have been times to keep a low profile on this search, some thoughts of anger against the system for not contacting the father, or whatever. Why did Jenny have to lay this one on my new family? Why didn't she let me know about Danny, long before it had come to this?

Questions and more questions twisted and turned.

As Anne and I continue our walk, our voices are whispers of refreshment to my soul. Just walking and talking like this is another of the many special moments we have together. One thing’s for sure; Danny coming into our lives has nurtured stronger feelings for one another. Too many of our friends joked about the sparkle leaving their marriage.

Anne and I could easily say the sparkle has never been brighter. Maybe Danny reminds us how important we are to one another.

Come on Danny, where are you? There's a family called the Reynolds's waiting to say, "Hello, and stop. This is the end of the line kid. Come on home."

And I’ll keep him Forever, Larry murmured more to himself.

CHAPTER FOUR

When Danny was almost thirteen ---
He sat on the snow bank staring thoughtfully as children played tag during recess. Danny wondered how many others in Lunenburg Elementary #12 were like him, about to be adopted. It was different; thinking about having brand new set of parents, away from your own mom and dad maybe somewhere back in Ontario.

At least he knew his mom was probably still there. He never met his dad.

Danny once overheard his Children's Aid worker say he was a "difficult child." And that maybe a total change in his life's direction would help him. He figured maybe it was the reason he ended up in Nova Scotia.

His physical health was good even though he was shorter than others of his age. And his baby blue eyes still peeked through long lashes, making him seem so lovable.

At lease, that's what girls in his class kept telling him. But, innocent looking features could be quite deceiving. Good thing they didn't know how angry he felt inside.

Danny thought about the six foster homes he had lived in these past few years. He wished he could forget some of the beatings and other things that happened. Those incidents had a habit of pushing away some of the good memories.

His Children's Aid worker had been an older person, experienced in working with "hard-to-place" children. She knew she'd finally found the right couple, even if it meant moving so far away from his home province.

His new family had three older children of their own. This time she could tell it was going to work out for Danny. It just had to happen. He was placed on adoption probation with his new family, the Lapointes.

At first they were just another pair of faces but Danny was loved. For the first time in a long while, he felt comfortable. It was almost like being at home. Finally, he seemed to be at peace with himself. Except when he thought about his real mom, there was an empty space inside his chest. He wondered where she was right now.

He had a hard time trying to forget the way he acted all these years. It was as if he didn't want anyone to ever love him; like he was 'no-good' or something. Danny knew there had to be a place for him in this world. If only he could stop his stealing and lying.

If he wasn’t careful the Lapointes might give up on him. Getting to know each other just had to work out. But it wasn't easy getting rid of old habits.

This monkey on his back was difficult to shake. He tried so hard to stop taking money from his new brother's and sister's piggybanks. Imagine, just paying for cigarettes and chips for his pals at school. How did he ever expect to get anything for Christmas the way he was behaving?

The Lapointes had many family discussions to help him out. Poor school habits had cost him two failed years, besides putting him in the doghouse.

Now Danny was twelve going on thirteen and only in grade six. He was getting bored with the younger kids in his class. No wonder they acted like a bunch of little morons.

The recess bell rang, interrupting his rambling thoughts. He had a court date tomorrow afternoon. This would be his third appearance for theft charges. Judge Templeton told Danny the last time he'd better not come back in his courtroom with any more problems.

"I hope they don't send me away," Danny said quietly to himself. He heard from other kids he could face at least a year in Shelbourne Training School.

Moistened eyes looked up at the sky. Only the blowing wind and Snowflakes falling on December's whitened ground heard him. It should have been a relaxing moment. But it wasn't.

"Oh mom, where are you? I miss you." He knew Mrs. Lapointe was a very nice person and wanted to be his new mom. But he needed his own flesh and blood mom right now. Tears streamed down his face as he closed his eyes. Danny needed to feel her arms around him. Did he let both his moms down? Did he let himself down?

His hair re-arranged itself in the wind, jacket opened wide in spite of the coolness. Fists clenched and unclenched. It seemed to be his trademark these days. When any kids in school bugged him he usually 'bopped' them a good one. Now he had to spend time alone in a corner of the yard. "Because you can't get along with anyone," he was told.

The school bell rang again. It meant classes were beginning. If he didn’t hurry, he would be late again. Danny wiped moisture from his eyes. He knew it wasn't his real mom's fault for walking out of his life.

But, where was his real father? How come they had never met? Didn't he care about his son? He had to share some of the blame for what happened in his son's life. "I'll never forgive him," Danny promised himself.

"Never," was a painful whisper.

Winter had provided the background in a new world for Larry. He remembered the time Anne entered his life. Courting was fun and seeing Anne with the children made him realize what he had been missing; a family. He thought often of the time Larry, Anne and the

children went to visit a friend on his farm.

There was a fair amount of snow on the ground and rather chilly outside. The type of day when your fingers got numb or your nose was almost frostbitten. The only way to fight it was to put bare flesh against your skin. No rubbing, simply the warmth of one protected area to another exposed to the elements.

First, hand to face, and then hand to nose.

They set out to visit his friend, a real estate salesman who was too busy to come and join them. Using Lawrence's old Ski-do and pulling a sled with the children hanging on, they headed down the trail into the woods back of his friend’s property. At first it looked to the children like an ordinary healthy day hike. After parking the noisy machine, they headed into the closest collection of trees.

They were willing to seek any shelter from the wind.

Saplings were bent from the weight of snow and crunching sounds followed the weight of hiking feet. Adults and children waited anxiously in a stand of woods for the freezing wind to take a pause.

Walt and Susan were hoping to have a little fire going soon for personal warmth. Happily, there were no heavy grocery-filled backpacks to carry on this trip.

It would have been nice eating hot dogs over an open flame.

Puffing breath escaped as mist from warm mouths. Each tried to blow and huff harder, noses running, laughter spreading across frozen cheeks.

The stillness absorbed their movements. Finally, they stopped jiggling around trying to get warm and stared at the beauty surrounding them. The moment was suspended, as if something perfect was about to take place.

Both Walt aged ten and five year old Susan had been excited to come. "Look! Look
here, Dad!" from Walt.

And "Mommy, it's so beautiful," from Susan.

Anne and Larry had been dating regularly for the past six months, and the children already on a journey of togetherness enjoyed spending their free time together. "Dad" was a title often expressed in their excitement. It was as if they were hurrying along the family unit they desired.

And neither of the adults discouraged them.

At first Larry and Anne were not sure how to deal with it, but then felt, "Oh, well." As long as it wasn't being said in the public eye, it was okay in private moments, such as now.

Anne knew how Larry felt about her and things had been building to a climax. Unknown to anyone else, this was the day Larry decided to pop the question. "Will you marry me," now hurried from his cold lips.

He had been looking for just the right occasion. And it was here, on a farm in Greenfield. Why here? Maybe it had to do with all of them really enjoying the outdoors. Besides, it was the closest woods from town where Larry could carve a heart with initials on a tree without worrying about trespassing.

His wife to be, the children and the forest were a perfect blend. Everything was in proper preparation. That moment remained fresh in his memory.

Anne said, "Yes."

*

Car tires hummed on the asphalt as their 1998 turquoise GM Cavalier whiskered by at an easy clip. Trees were a blurry shade as Truro disappeared into the far distance, left behind as a long lost friend.

There was a new focus on Larry’s mind. His head whirred with an attack of anxiety and hopefulness. It was as if he was one delicate gear meshing smoothly with many others.

"Hon?"

"What?"

"I can hardly understand it, Danny, here in Nova Scotia. It’s like a part of some great plan."

The final bit of information was passed quickly from London to Truro, then to the Reynolds’s last night. They could barely believe their ears at the time.

"Well, it wasn't easy just packing up quickly to make this trip. Do you think the kids will be very upset?" Anne inquired.

"Why? They’ll be well looked after by Baxter and Vida."

“I know dear, but after all this time, searching and looking. Then all of a sudden---you know what I mean,” Anne persisted.

Larry didn’t seem to be listening as he concentrated on the road.

"For one thing, in all this excitement you forgot your promise to Walt. I'm a witness, I heard you."

"What did I promise?" Larry asked, jarred from his thoughts.

"Take him fishing. Remember? Tomorrow is Saturday. Rain or shine, you said; your word."

"Oh darn, I completely forgot."

"You've been doing a lot of that lately," Anne admonished. "You're going to have to work it out with him. And don't forget, next week is our vacation." Before she upset him any further, she asked, "Did you really want me along today?"

"Yes."

"I really let Walt down," Larry muttered under his breath. He heard his wife's last statement but his thoughts were on his two children. "Why didn't he remind me?" Larry asked.

"Do you think you would have taken him fishing instead of making this trip?"

"No."

"There's your answer." She didn't try to push it. She knew Larry felt bad enough already, but she needed to remind him about his promise.

*

They'd been through a lot lately. And that phone call last night meant everything to Larry. He was so excited he didn’t notice Walt and Susan simply went to bed early. It seemed fitting Larry should have some time to himself to digest the good news, but he even forgot to tuck his children in. Thankfully, Anne covered for him.

This time it wasn't just supposition or speculation. It was a lot more than a lead or a clue. It was a raw fact. They finally found Danny!

Both Larry and Anne had learned the Lapointes were reviewing their interest on whether or not to have another period of adoption probation. They worried he might be too hardened from being in the Waterville Training school for almost a year. Things had turned so sour their adoption plans were put on hold. Apparently it was felt Danny should be placed temporarily with another foster home.

The Reynolds’s were now on their way to see Danny at the home of Mrs. Leona Symes. He might even be playing with friends in the backyard right this very moment.

The plan was to stay overnight in Lunenburg. Then visit in the morning and have a private visit while Danny was still in school. This would give them all a chance to catch up on any pertinent facts helpful in their meeting with Larry’s son. There would be lots of time for talking later. The CAS felt this would be the best approach before father and son met.

Larry’s foot wanted to press harder on the accelerator due to the slow pace of traffic. But his usual relaxing mood took over. In spite of any pressure or difficulties, he was able to step outside of himself. It was this ability t
"Let's stop for a coffee," Larry said, noticing the Irving Big Stop restaurant. And they did. These past few hours he hadn't been listening as much as he should to his wife. His life had been turned 'topsy-turvy' since discovering he had a flesh and blood son, just miles away.

He could barely imagine what his first few words to his son were going to be. "Danny, I never knew about you…"

"What, Hon?" Anne interrupted.

"Sorry, you-know-who's on my mind. Do you think he looks like me, dear?"

"I think he’ll look more like me."

"Like you?" Larry asked in astonishment. It wasn't the answer he was looking for and quickly burst into a laughing spell.

"Why not?" was the kind of reply Anne tried to use as an ointment for her husband’s tenseness? He had been through a lot, she mused. And he could use a little teasing. Maybe break up that seriousness he'd been carrying around lately.

“I’m really glad you feel that way,” Larry said.

Miles roared by as towns and villages became signposts displaying their "WELCOME" and "COME AGAIN" messages. It wasn’t long before the overpass to Lunenbourg took them into the beautiful historic town. A few streetlights later and voila, they were here. Registration was prompt, efficient and their room on the third floor was delightful.

A short while later the coffee was perking just right and drinking it sent a warm feeling directly to his toes. Strained muscles and tired spirits were able to have a truce as Larry and Anne settled in comfortable chairs.

Once again, husband and wife were dealing with issues together, just the two of them. Larry’s fingers dangled over Anne's left hand, his foot nudging hers gently under the table. "I love you," kept repeating itself, as a bridge of comfort between them.

He was sure things were going to be a lot better for all of them.

His family deserved it.